A MAY 15 letter from Janet Domenitz, executive director of MassPIRG, headlined “Still waiting for state’s master plan to reduce solid waste” wondered why the draft plan, completed nearly two years ago, has not yet been released. It’s a good question. The problem is serious, and getting worse.
Landfills are reaching capacity. There is a moratorium on new incinerators. Municipalities are doing their best to encourage recycling, but tons of waste are generated daily. The state Department of Environmental Protection is powerless to stop banned materials, such as medical waste and chemicals used in paint and cleaning, from finding their way to existing landfills and incinerators.
Some small first steps could be taken to reduce the problem. Yet the Legislature will not pass an expanded bottle bill. There is a need for facilities to process food waste, but there we run into the not-in-my-backyard problem.
So why hasn’t the solid waste master plan been released?
I think there are several reasons. The first is inertia. With no disaster on hand, it is difficult to generate public interest. The second is cost. With no public pressure to act, our government prefers to defer the expenditures required to implement plan recommendations.
Finally, it is likely that the master plan was never intended to be released. If there was serious intent to act, would a 10-year plan be needed? The idea is to feign concern and buy time. The problem will become someone else’s later.